Archives for the month of: June, 2019

Image result for jemima small versus the universe

Published by Usborne

CORPULENT

FAT / HEAVY / LARGE

OBESE /  OVERWEIGHT

PORTLY / STOCKY/ STOUT

This is a story of comparisons. Those we make ourselves and those others make about us.

Jemima Small is larger than life.

She is larger than life, than average, in many things.

She’s funny, bright (very bright) and kind.

She is also larger than average, physically.

Which can make her feel like nothing at all. Of no importance. Of no use. It has been a gradual thing – incremental and a slow transition and it colours her life.

There are things she does and things she doesn’t do because she is deemed to be different. She doesn’t accept challenges which would mean she has to stand up and be someone, as no-one would want to see someone like her representing the school…

Jemima is, however, intelligent. Clever and knows all sorts of things that other people don’t.

We are all made of star dust.

Who we are is not what we look like.

We are all so much more than that.

 

 

 

Image result for where the river runs gold

Published by Orion Books –

Freedom Fields Family

Stronger Together

Education, Healthcare, Work Experience, Training

Food, Fresh (air), Fair (treatment), Freedom and Fun

A Family for Life

This book is by way of a warning.

A dystopian novel set after the last bees have gone. A distant memory. Where there were meadows, fields and trees there are now bricks, mortar and steel. Food is hard to come by. People make do and their children are sent to the Freedom Fields to help pollinate crops by hand.

This is the tale of a sale of hair and the last tendrils returned as a skein to be kept and given as a gift. Of free-thinking. Resistance. Seeds and hope. It’s a tale of families and siblings. A story of belief.

Themba and his sister Shifa’s adventure begins as they realise that the Freedom Fields Family isn’t quite what the brochure suggested and there’s that secret too…

Brilliant. Read it. Enjoy it. Trust in the bees.

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Animal Photograph - Spiders Of Britain And Northern Europe by Natural History Museum, London/science Photo Library

Collins

My garden has got a little wild and my paeonies all needed to be looked at. Though the main white one – the big one, had finished flowering some time ago. The smaller herbaceous varieties I have are still blooming, though many of the heads are becoming manky, to use a technical term. I have a general rule that ‘mankiness’ should be removed before it goes sludgy and makes things worse. So, I de-head anything that has gone over. It’s an easy rule – and satisfying too. Now the little white paeony is going over – the petals are worn and the heads are looking very tatty.

I have been taking them off regularly and went to take one of the last when I saw a movement and met Blanche – my friendly neighbourhood WHITE spider sitting amongst the petals. So, I left her alone – she obviously lived in the bud – and I do believe in trying to garden without disturbing anyone too much.

For the last few days I have been studying her. At times she is very white, others an off white and sometimes she has a greenish tinge. No web to speak of, so I assumed (I find rightly) that she is the wait- and-grab type of arachnid and was waiting for some unsuspecting prey to visit. I have kept an eye on her

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ever since, taking photos of her (when she wasn’t hiding behind the sepals of the flower head, or under one of the petals) and thought that the colour change was something to do with sunshine and how it was hitting her body…

I have a copy of The Collins Field Guides: Spiders, (1995 edn.) which has photographs as well as line drawings and low and behold, amongst the photos of lots of brown and very prettily marked arachnids I came across a white example – looking very similar to Blanche. The notation states:

Genus Misumena: The single species in the region sits in flowers, usually white or yellow and ambushes visiting insects in the same manner as Thomisus. It is similarly able to slowly change colour and the female may be white, yellow or greenish, with or without red spots or stripes.

As you will see from the photos Blanche has no spots or stripes, but this is definitely her Genus – without a doubt. It seems her husband is the more usual brown, with a pattern. I was a little concerned about her – she is small – body no bigger than my little finger nail…and she didn’t seem interested in the odd fly that visited the paeony…but then this evening, I made a last visit to her shrub and found her half hidden under a petal, curved over her. She had her legs wrapped very firmly around a bee, I’m afraid and seemed to be determined to hold on to it. Not that I tried to remove it, you understand it’s just that there’s an air of determination about her. As to the bee – she wasn’t moving. I suspect that Blanche has immobilised

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her, or failing that I was looking at a body. I shall be interested tomorrow to see what remains. I am glad though that Blanche has caught a meal – though it is rather a large one – and though I’d prefer not to practice speciesism – I would have liked her quarry not to have been a honey bee…

I have had this book for some time – but haven’t really used it for identifying any arachnids until this week – and it is full of useful information too – if you have even the most basic interest in the smaller fauna then these guide books produced by Collins are extremely useful.

 

Image result for max kowalski didn't mean it

Published by Puffin Books

‘…and always wait for the weather.’

Not many big brothers would hold a funeral for a desiccated bifurcated dead worm for a younger sister.  This is, however, one of the first things that the hero of this story does at the beginning of this book. He is his father’s eldest child. He is ‘stepping up’ – taking on the responsibility for his family, when his father disappears.

This is a story of families. Of siblings. Of hiding out. Sticking together and responsibilities…a tale of a trip to Wales, of learning to climb, a pink rolling suitcase stuffed with money and a mystery…

I haven’t finished it yet – but it keeps distracting me from what I should be doing….

There are probably lots of definitions of what it is to be a ‘man’ – this small volume (I have finished it now), gives one such definition… Stepping up isn’t what youngsters are supposed to be doing. Theirs is the time for experiments, challenges, support and love.

A book of the mountains and of Wales too. Stupendous. Loved it.

Image result for the dragon in the library

Published by Nosy Crow –

There are some out there who don’t enjoy a good book. I was one, once. Though I did enjoy being read to. I just didn’t see the necessity of learning to read for myself. That is until I visited the Tutankhamun exhibition…but that is another story in itself.

This then is for those out there who think that books and dare I say it, LIBRARIES are rather dull and not for them.

How different things would be if there happened to be a dragon living beneath these extraordinary and wonderful depositories of escapism and other things…

Kit’s friends are ‘into’ books – in a big way – never happier than sitting with a nose stuck into a new novel…she though, would rather spend her time outside – there are trees to climb, places to go…not least the local cemetery… ‘...with its spooky stone angels and matted undergrowth full of cool insects and – one blissful day – a rat….’

When Kit finds herself visiting her local library with her friends things turn out very differently from the way she thought it would…there are wizards and dragons involved and magic too… There is a little of Pages & Co / Anna James (see previous review) in this – however, this one is for those who are a little younger – none the less a book to enjoy over the summer. You never know it may mean a visit to a library, or perhaps to a bookshop – to look at books

Illustrated throughout by Davide Ortu – which is always a bonus…after all what is the use of a book without pictures? 

 

The Wishing Bones

Published by Orion Books

‘Let’s not be counting our vultures,

till they be hatched.’

Those of you who frequent Waterstones Finchley Road O2 will be well aware of my passion (I think that’s the best word to describe it) for Michelle Lovric’s Undrowned Child – which I reviewed way back in 2009 on W.com and then again, a few years later and since then a number of times on my blog.

This is Michelle’s most recent Venetian tale. Once more, not for the feint-hearted: a story of murders, mystery and mermaids. A different tale – one of orphans, reliquaries and the trade in sacred relics…and so much more.

Another volume that seems to have been well and truly soaked in the waters of the canals in Venice. If you have read The Undrowned Child then this is one to reawaken that urge to visit Venice whether literally or within the boards of a book. If you haven’t read The Undrowned Child, (I can’t see why you might not), then these two volumes make a wonderful pair of Venetian mysteries and will without doubt encourage you to visit (should you not have done so already), or to return to La Serenissima.

This then is a story of reliquaries and the trade in the remains of saints. If all the claims made around various saints are true, then a number of them, it would seem, had more than the usual quota of limbs, amongst other things. This story is about where those may have come from. A story that is as dark as many of the stories that colour Venice’s history.

Not for the feint-hearted, as I said, but a book for those who can acknowledge the darker side of this extraordinary city,  a book like no other. Apart from that other one, I may have mentioned…

Image result for Pay attention, carter jones schmidt

Published by Anderson Press

‘What’s this?’ I said. ‘Tea with milk and sugar.’ said the Butler. ‘I don’t drink tea,’ I said. ‘All civilised people drink tea, young Master Jones.’

‘Then I guess I’m not civilised.’

‘A claim you share with Vikings, Huns, assorted barbarian hordes. and marauders of all stripes….’

This is about cricket. You know that game with stumps, wickets, and a hard red ball. This though, is also about so much more.

It made me laugh – I have a friend who has recently returned to Washington DC – reasonable enough, after all she is American. Having just read this – it made me wonder what she thought, truly thought of us English. We are, after all a rather unique race of people.

This was a joy. It was also touching and thought provoking.

I wish Carol was still in the UK – I would have given her this to read.

If you want a book that is about cricket, this is for you – but be warned. It’s not just about cricket…there’s a lot more depth to it than that, though I suppose some cricket fans might object to that statement. There are more depths though, whatever you may be led to believe.

Brilliant, funny, joyful and as I said, thought provoking and touching.

It’s about being a gentleman, cricket…oh, and tea…

I read a proof – that looks nothing like the cover above – which I have to admit doesn’t appeal to me – that said ‘Never judge a book by its cover.’ So don’t. Read this.

 

 

Image result for the butterfly circus chelu

Published by Walker Books

I have often wondered if I would have the nerve to soar through the air on a trapeze. I’m not sure – I DID once do a zip wire – which was nearly a failure as I didn’t want to let go of the tree – but enough of that. Maybe one day I will…

This is a story of two sisters. Both trapeze artists. One falls and though she survives she slowly realises she has a secret that she daren’t acknowledge even to her sibling.

This is a story of the circus. A story of sisters, jealousy, bravery and a shadow…

Marvellous –

Everyone should read this one – I love Rosa – it’s wonderful.

 

Image result for Peril en pointe lipscombe

Published by Chicken House

I had a ballet lesson or two in my extreme youth. My career was similar to that of Helen’s – as she states in the Acknowledgements at the end of this wonderful book – ‘Tragically, my own ballet career went down the plug-hole, age six, but that’s another story.‘ I think mine went down a similar hole…

This though, is a wonderful mix of ballet and espionage! An interesting mix – which works well as though Helen’s career may have been short, she made sure that the feel of a ballet school and the intense work that is put in to producing a production is soaked well into these pages. I thought that her life must have been in and around dance and ballet. So for those of you who know what it is to go ‘en pointe’ – you should’t be disappointed…and in all other respects this is a brilliant adventure story.

I have to say (I have a friend who is a Trekkie) that when discussing a mole (not the sort with a velveteen jacket – the other sort), our heroine says –

‘It can’t be Merv,’ I say. ‘He’s got a Star Trek thermos.’

Which made me laugh…

Into ballet? Read it. You like books set in schools?  Into mysteries and espionage? More reasons to read this…Thoroughly good.

 

 

Image result for the fire maker jones

Published by Chicken House

There are at least two versions of magic out there. There’s the fictional magic of the Harry Potter sort. Then there’s the magic, which is more a question of illusion and tricks and of the more regular sort.

Alex is into the latter – fascinated by slight of hand. He’s good at it – but knows that practice is the way forward. He’s a little different from his peers to say the least…and escaping from one of his class mates – bent on having another go at him, he backs into a garden and sees something that he shouldn’t…

This is rather brilliant – not all heroes are what we expect. Perhaps there is a little Harry Potter magic out there, if we only know where to look –

I loved this – a tale with a magical twist…

Brilliant.